The final months of the Civil War a time when President Abraham Lincoln struggled to end slavery and bring the Confederate States of America back into the fold of the Union are among the most important moments in Unites States history. They're also the murkiest. Eleventh grade American History tried to teach us — war four scores Emancipation Proclamation the 13th Amendment and a fateful night at the theater — but with a few hundred years' worth of events to process most people leave school knowing that Lincoln made a couple of important moves that turned the world what it is today.
Thankfully we now have a film courtesy of the legendary Steven Spielberg that brings the 16th President's amazing uphill battle to cinematic life. The cold hard facts could not be more impressive.
For Lincoln an adaptation of the Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Spielberg scales down his usual blockbuster sensibilities (last seen in 2011's World War I melodrama War Horse) to craft an intimate portrait of an iconic political figure. To pull it off writer Tony Kushner (Munich and the two-part Angels in America) constructs the film like a play relying on the soothing chameleon presence of Daniel Day-Lewis to breath life into Lincoln's poetic waxing. The president hits roadblock after roadblock on his quest to free the slaves and end the war Kushner and Spielberg weaving in handfuls of characters to pull him in various directions (and accurately represent the real life events). Each time Day-Lewis' Lincoln gracefully dances the dance solving every problem with action and words. Today Lincoln is held in high regard as an inspirational figure. Spielberg shows us why.
Lincoln isn't a full-blown birth-to-death biopic of the Great Emancipator and is all the better for it. Picking up in January of 1865 years into the Civil War Lincoln summons his Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) to say enough is enough — the time is ripe for the abolishing of slavery. Against the vocal naysayers of the Union and even his personal confidants Lincoln attempts to rally the congressmen he needs to make his bill an amendment. He hires three men (John Hawkes Tim Blake Nelson and the wonderfully outrageous James Spader) to use whatever nonviolent means possible to swing the vote. All the while well-spoken adversaries (like Lee Pace's Fernando Wood) take to the House of Representatives floor to discredit Lincoln and dissuade congressmen. Keeping the progressive foot in the door is Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) a foul-mouthed powerhouse who shares Lincoln's ambitious dreams of equality.
The story is simple but Kushner doesn't shy away from laying down lengthy passages of political discussion in order to show the importance of Lincoln's task. It's dense material spruced up with Kushner's ear for dialogue. But even so it occasionally meanders into Ken Burns documentary territory. Case in point: there are so many characters with beards in Lincoln Spielberg even flashes title cards underneath their opening scenes just so we're not lost. The fact-heavy approach takes getting used to but Spielberg and Kushner adeptly dig deep beyond the political gabfest to find a human side to Lincoln. He's a gentle man a warm man and a hilarious man. The duo's Honest Abe never shies away from a good story — at times he's like Grandpa from The Simpsons lost in his own anecdotes (much to the dismay of his cabinet). Day-Lewis chews scenery as hinted at in the trailers but with absolute restraint. That makes his sudden outbursts really pop. When Lincoln becomes fed up with pussyfooting politicians like the quivering representatives played by Walton Goggins and Michael Stuhlbarg Day-Lewis cranks the high-pitched president up to 10. He never falters.
There's a great deal of humor and heart in Lincoln — partially because the circus-like antics of Washington D.C. feel all too close-to-home in this day and age — and Spielberg paces it all with expert camera work. The drama is iffier: a side story involving Lincoln's son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) teases an interesting family dynamic that is never fully explored and is clunky when dropped to the wayside in favor of larger issues. Same goes for Lincoln's wife Mary Todd (Sally Field) who continues to grieve for the couple's lost child. They are important issues but they don't quite work in the fabric of this specific narrative.
The larger world outside the offices of the White House and Congress is often forgotten too — we hear a lot of war talk without seeing a whole lot of war. Instances where Lincoln ventures out into fields of the dead have emotional impact but we feel disconnected from it. Where Spielberg really gets it right is in the chaos of the presidential occupation. There is no easy task for Lincoln. "I may have been wrong about that " says Abe referencing his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation "but I wanted the people to tell me if I was." Day-Lewis understands Lincoln's complex internal thought and brings it forward in each scene: humble confident deadly and compassionate.
Spielberg's technical team once again wows and echoes the lead performance. Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski's contrasting photography near chiaroscuro makes the beautiful set and production design hyper real and highlights the actors' aging faces. Composer John Williams returns once again but with a score as low-key as Day-Lewis' character — a change of pace when compared to War Horse. It's all up to par with Spielberg's past work without turning Lincoln into a flashy period drama.
Day-Lewis was the talk of the town when the first Lincoln trailers made their way on the web. Surprisingly however Lincoln wows because it's a well-balanced ensemble drama. Lee Jones delivers his best work in a decade as the grouchy idealist Spader delivers the comedic performance of the fall season and every scene introduces another familiar face to add additional gravitas to the picture (as opposed to being a distracting cameo fest). S. Epatha Merkerson's late-in-the-game scene opens up the tear ducts in a way that none of her male costars can.
If history isn't one of your interests Lincoln may not rouse you — background reading not required but conversation moves at lightning speed and without much hand-holding. It's a change of pace for Spielberg and a welcome one. With all the bells and whistles that come with being the biggest director of all time Lincoln looks amazing sounds amazing and has enough talent to make it an exhilarating learning experience.
With The Dark Knight Rises debut looming large on the horizon, the question on everyone’s mind is “can it beat The Avengers' $207.4 million record breaking weekend debut?” Early tracking from THR pegs the Bat-threequel as a true contender — but it has hurdles to jump. Keep in mind only once in box office history has a movie opened with over $200 million and that was a 3-D revenue boosted Avengers gross that blew away all expectations and redefined the notion of the Hollywood blockbuster. The Dark Knight Rises will of course have the always dependable IMAX boost to give it a lift, but of course that’s in a relatively small number of theaters. In addition, it’s probably not fair to compare a 2D-only release to its 3D counterparts, which so richly benefit from the obvious revenue boost that the higher ticket price carries.
So now a little history: The Dark Knight was the movie to see back in the summer of 2008. In the wake of the untimely death of Heath Ledger, interest was sparked in the movie that defied logic: suddenly everyone wanted to see the final (and legendary) performance of an actor that was taken in his prime and at the height of his acting powers. The instantaneous mystique that the movie achieved led to a then record-breaking opening weekend gross of $158,411,483 and a total domestic gross of over $533 million and a worldwide gross of just over a billion dollars.
This leads us to the July 20 debut of The Dark Knight Rises which is perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year and has instilled a “must see” necessity in the minds of moviegoers the world over. One of the greatest film directors working today, Christopher Nolan, pulled together an amazing cast including the returning Christian Bale as Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, and Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon along with newcomers and Inception alum Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake and Tom Hardy as the super-evil villain Bane. Anne Hathaway joins the cast as Catwoman, and as such, may add to the female appeal of the largely male-oriented world of Batman.
It’s a pretty safe bet that The Dark Knight Rises will land amongst the Top 3 opening weekends of all time and would seemingly have a lock on posting the biggest debut ever for a 2D movie ahead of its predecessor The Dark Knight and possibly landing somewhere in the neighborhood of the 3D powered debut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at $169.2 million. The Avengers 3D enhanced record breaking all-time opening record of $207.4 million will likely stand up to The Dark Knight Rises challenge, but who knows….we all foolishly underestimated that movie and look what happened.
Awesome 'Dark Knight Rises' Set Visit & Costume Closeup — VIDEO
'The Dark Knight Rises' Notes Stoke Possible John Blake/Batman Connection
Why 'The Dark Knight Rises' Is Basically a 'Rocky III' Remake
As Christopher Nolan recently confirmed, The Dark Knight Rises will be his final stab at the Batman universe. Thus, it's none too surprising that it seems like the visionary will be rounding out his superhero series with the highest quantity and caliber of explosions, fire, property damage, public riots, plane crashes, and speech impediments imaginable.
The newest trailer for TDKR does not skimp on the action. In the brief two-and-a-quarter-minute-long video, fans can see the residents of Gotham go bananas over the brimming apocalypse of human degradation threatening to overtake their not-so-fair city. Amid all the hullabaloo, it is the softer moments that give promise to Nolan's conclusive episode. Wistful police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) speaking to a young boy, hoping for the return of their masked hero. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) chatting with Wayne Industries' Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and father figure Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) upon returning to his old life after an extended hiatus. And then Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) steals the Batmobile, and we're back in the heat of things.
Granted, TDKR isn't going to be as hectic and frenzied as the trailer might let on. The film will no doubt be a thoughtful compilation of this trailer's deeper, more pensive moments, and the exciting demolition. Check out the new trailer, and let us know what your hopes are for the third chapter of Nolan's Batman story.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Dark Knight Rises': Batman Wants Back in the Game — VIDEO
'Dark Knight Rises' at MTV Movie Awards: All Hell Breaks Loose
Christopher Nolan Was 'Nervous' About Adding Catwoman to 'Dark Knight Rises'
The Dark Knight Rises
There are few film projects out there as anticipated as The Dark Knight Rises. Not only is it the follow up to one of the biggest and best blockbusters of all time, but it's also the final chapter in director Christopher Nolan's trilogy of Bat-flicks. With a great cast that reunites Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, but also features franchise newcomers Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway and many more.
Today, Warner Bros. Pictures release a press release stating that production had officially begun on the film, and we here at Hollywood.com couldn't be more excited. You can expect a ton of set photos and videos (both official and unofficial) to start pouring in now that cameras are rolling, and we'll make sure to show you everything we can, but for now feast on the release, which you can read below.
BURBANK, CA, May 19, 2011 – Principal photography has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.
Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.
In helming “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan is utilizing IMAX® cameras even more extensively than he did on “The Dark Knight,” which had marked the first time ever that a major feature film was partially shot with IMAX® cameras. The results were so spectacular that the director wanted to expand the use of the large-format cameras for this film.
The screenplay for “The Dark Knight Rises” is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is being produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. “The Dark Knight” is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
Behind the scenes, “The Dark Knight Rises” reunites the director with several of his longtime collaborators, all of whom worked together on the “The Dark Knight.” The creative team includes director of photography Wally Pfister, who recently won an Oscar® for his work on Nolan’s “Inception”; production designer Nathan Crowley; editor Lee Smith; and Oscar®-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (“Topsy-Turvy”). In addition, Paul Franklin and Chris Corbould, who both won Oscars® for the effects in “Inception,” will supervise the visual and special effects, respectively. The music will be composed by Oscar® winner Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King”).
The locations for “The Dark Knight Rises” span three continents and include the American cities of Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles, as well as sites in India, England and Scotland.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures. Slated for release on July 20, 2012, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
The star is said to be planning to reteam with his Inception director Christopher Nolan for a lead role in the upcoming superhero sequel, although it is unclear what part he will play.
According to GossipCop.com, Hardy has been swamped with scripts after production on Mad Max: Fury Road was postponed due to ongoing rainfall in the Australian desert where the film is to be set.
He's not the only Inception star said to be joining the cast - Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been rumoured to be starring as the Riddler, while Sir Michael Caine will reprise his role as Alfred.
Everyone who is writing this article and is either not a fan of Inception or not excited about the third Batman movie, please stop writing right now and go take your medication.
Ok, glad we got that out of the way. We feel much better now. In what is to be the second biggest announcement about the movie, Tom Hardy has joined the cast in a major role. No word on who (or WHAT) he will be playing but seeing as the role of Batman and Alfred has been taken and the last love got (SPOILERS) killed (END SPOILERS), we’re fairly certain he’ll be a villain. Also, we're fairly certain he won't be Robin because that would just be silly.
Hardy was a pleasant surprise in Inception. I was familiar with everyone else in the cast except for him and he turned out to be one of my favorite characters. And have you seen pictures of him in Bronson? Holy jacked-up prison rage Batman! That man can get stacked!
Let the speculation begin on his role! Killer Croc seems to be the latest possibility, according to the people who have no involvement with the project whatsoever. I think this could potentially be a cool villain, I trust Christopher Nolan with at least 8 of my 9 personalities, and Killer Croc was cool in the video game Arkham Asylum. But I was personally hoping for David Tennant or Joesph Gordon-Levitt to play The Riddler, but it doesn’t look that way. Or maybe it still will be! As soon as I calm down from hearing what Hardy will play or the most trivial bits of news, we’ll let you know.
UPDATE - Let the word-of-mouth begin. With $3 million in midnight screenings Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated “Inception” gets off to a start that is certainly no challenge to any of the midnight records, but hopefully will motivate moviegoers to begin the social network chatter that will either make or break the film. With its incredible visual style, plot convolutions and filmmaking pedigree, “Inception” is the stuff from which advanced film school courses are made. Weekend projections put the mind-blowing film in the $50 plus million range.
It's finally here! One of the most anticipated movies of the summer, if not the year as Warner Bros.' "Inception" prepares to mind-bend movie-goers with its smart, intricate storyline, solid performances and awe-inspiring visuals and special effects. Arguably one of the most accomplished film directors of all-time, Christopher Nolan brings this truly original production to the big screen (and of course his beloved IMAX canvas) after a ten year gestation period during which the super-brainy director developed the story and was likely waiting for special effects technology to catch up with his cinematic vision. Nolan holds the distinction of having directed the film with the biggest opening weekend box office of all-time with "The Dark Knight" which opened almost exactly two years ago to the day with a whopping $158.4 million.
This could potentially give star Leonardo DiCaprio the best debut weekend of his career ahead of this year's first quarter hit "Shutter Island" which gave the star a career high weekend opening of $41.1 million. Ellen Page gives a subtle and smart performance and Joseph Gordon Levitt gets the MVP award for a truly gritty and career re-defining role that has the actor giving a very physical and uncommonly (for him) tough performance. British born Tom Hardy is also a revelation as Eames, a street-wise operative. Of course, DiCaprio gives an amazing performance under the tutelage of yet another brilliant director. Not to be missed, "Inception" is the sort of summer blockbuster that does not insist that you leave your brain at the door; quite the contrary as it actually requires that you put your thinking cap on and go along for a very challenging but very fun and satisfying ride. Notable that Warner Bros. has a maintained a tradition of terrific box office performances on this mid-July date with "Harry Potter 6" last year and the aforementioned "The Dark Knight" in 2008.
As a cool alternative for families who have been giving major support of late to PG-rated action adventures such as "The Karate Kid" and "The Last Airbender," Disney brings Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel ("Tropic Thunder," "She's Out of My League) together in this action film that has Cage sporting magical powers in his role as a master sorcerer and teams him with regular guy Dave (played by Baruchel) as they try to outwit the evil Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina who played the evil Doc Ock in "Spider-Man 2." Pulling a very famous title from the vaults, Disney hopes to continue their winning streak with families in the wake of the massive success of "Toy Story 3" and take their G-rated devotees and bring them back for some live action PG-rated family adventure.
Another strong weekend in store after last weekend's 35% increase over the comparable weekend a year ago and the much bigger-than-expected debut and chart topping mid-week grosses of Universal's "Despicable Me" which has earned nearly $80 million in just six days of release. Summit's "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," Disney's "Toy Story 3" and Sony's "Grown Ups" are also displaying continued strength and should put us again in the revenue sweet spot along with this weekend's newcomers. With about seven weekends remaining in the season, the last third of the summer now holds the key to the ultimate fate of the box office after a somewhat rocky May into mid-June period and subsequent show of strength by "The Karate Kid," "Eclipse," "Toy Story 3," "The Last Airbdender" and "Despicable Me."